How Eco is your Lodge?

With the growing concern about responsible tourism, the development of ecolodges has been welcomed as a way to see the world without destroying it (see Treehugger). In many cases tourists are willingly paying higher prices for the privilege of roughing it in exotic locales because they have the satisfaction of knowing that they are benefiting local people and protecting delicate habitats. But how do we tell if a place really is legit? Organisations such as Tourism Concern monitor and raise concerns about some destinations and have published the Ethical Travel Guide which has ecolodge listings. Now, new consumer magazine has created a series of questions to ask lodge owners in order to ascertain whether their operation really does benefit the local community and its cultures. Things to ask:
-Do they have a written policy
-How do they measure their contribution to conservation and local communities
-How many local people do they employ
-What percentage of goods and services are sourced from within 25 m. of the lodge
-How do they treat waste water and heat their building
-What information is available about local cultures, and
-Do they hire guides from the local community?
For the real thing, feast your eyes on Lapa Rios Ecolodge in Costa Rica, located on a thousand acres of tropical rainforest. The bungalows are high above the sea and activities, aside from sheer bliss, include sea kayaking, fishing, riding and jungle camping. :: new consumer